Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free, страница 1
The Worst Things in Life
are Also Free
From New York Times bestselling author Jim Benton
The Worst Things in Life
Are Also Free
Think you can handle
Jamie Kelly’s FIrst year of diaries?
#1 Let’s pretend this never happened
#2 My pants are haunted!
#3 Am I the Princess or the Frog?
#4 never do anything, ever
#5 can adults become human?
#6 the problem with here is that it's where i'm from
#7 Never Underestimate your dumbness
#8 It’s Not My Fault I Know Everything
#9 That’s What Friends Aren't For
#10 The worst things in life are also free
#11 Okay, So Maybe I Do Have Superpowers
#12 Me! (Just Like You, Only Better)
And don’t miss year two!
Year Two #1: School. Hasn’t This Gone On Long Enough?
Year Two #2: The Super-nice Are Super-annoying
Year Two #3: Nobody's Perfect. I'm as Close As It Gets.
Year Two #4: What I Don’t Know Might Hurt Me
The Worst Things in Life
Are Also Free
Jim Benton’s Tales from Mackerel Middle School
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e-ISBN 978 -0 -545-34758-7
Copyright © 2010 by Jim Benton
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DEAR DUMB DIARY is a registered trademark of Jim Benton.
First printing, June 2010
For Janet, Jerry, Patrick, and Kristin
Special thanks to Kristen LeClerc and the
team at Scholastic: Steve Scott, Elizabeth
Krych, Susan Jeffers, Anna Bloom, and
Dear Whoever Is Reading My Dumb Diary,
So I suppose you think it’s okay to just
pick up somebody’s diary and read it
absolutely free of charge?
Well, it isn’t. Things cost money in this
world, cupcake, and if you want to read
this diary, it’s going to cost you. Have a
look at our handy price list:
HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO READ
People: Five million dollars
Parents: Four million dollars (apiece)
Isabella: One million dollars
(non - counterfeit, and no offense,
Isabella, but I’ll need to have somebody
at the bank check it out first)
Blond individuals: One arm and one
leg. Plus five million dollars. Plus another
five million dollars.
Thank you for shopping with us today!
P.S. Prices are PER WORD.
P.P.S. Except you, Angeline. For you, it’s
Dear Dumb Diary,
Sometimes teachers think it’s okay to teach
things to kids, and they are proven wrong. Like a
little earlier this year, in science, when we were each
assigned a disease to study. The diseases were
written on little slips of paper, and we chose them
by grabbing them at random out of a bag.
Angeline, of course, unfairly got the
BUBONIC PLAGUE, which is like the most popular
disease EVER. I was assigned SUNBURN, which
I complained wasn’t even really a disease. I asked
for DIAPER RASH instead because that’s sort of
the cutest disease, but then the teacher said no
and that I’d just have to pull another one at random
out of a bag. I was afraid I might get FAT BUTT or
something like that, although now that I think about
it, I’m not sure that Fat Buttedness is a medical
condition. Anyway, I decided to just shut up and
live with sunburn.
Angeline offered to give me the plague, but I
didn’t want anybody’s charity, you know?
The REAL problem here was that Isabella
picked this condition called
, which is
not as famous as the bubonic plague, but believe
me — more people have had it. Neurapraxia is the
scientific name for that tingle when your arm or leg
falls asleep. It does not have the horrible and gory
symptoms that Isabella had hoped for (I can’t
remember them all because Isabella was laughing
too hard while she was listing them), but Isabella
seemed satisfied that left untreated, neurapraxia
could become the kind of illness she could love.
So we all researched our diseases, and finally
the day came when some of us were supposed to
stand in front of the class and bore each other with
our reports. We had a substitute the day Isabella
was scheduled to give her report. I know that
teachers think it’s okay to be absent sometimes,
but they are wrong about that, too.
Isabella stood up and began slowly and
carefully describing neurapraxia, and how standing
up and moving the limb seems to clear it up. But
then she began to talk about various other gross
things that could happen to you if your neurapraxia
went on too long, and you couldn’t get the symptoms
to go away, or if you got it in your brain, maybe
from a tight hat, or a pillow that was too soft or too
warm or not soft enough. And believe me: Isabella is
very fluent in gross. She can stretch the word “pus”
into three syllables.
About five minutes into her report, just
as everybody was totally sick to their stomachs,
Isabella pulled out a test tube that she took from
the lab where her dad works. She said that they had
discovered a contagious form of neurapraxia
and that what she had was a REAL TEST TUBE
full of it.
The substitute teacher thought Isabella
was joking, and didn’t think it was a funny joke at
that. She told Isabella to put the tube back in her
backpack. Teachers also think it’s okay to assume
they are wrong about this as well. She isn’t always
When Isabella went to reach for her bag, she
accidentally dropped the tube and it broke open.
I’ve never seen Isabella look so frightened. In just a
couple seconds, she started to twitch and foam
dribbled out of her mouth.
By the time Isabella hit the floor, Mike
Pinsetti was in a full shrieking panic, running
into the halls and screaming, “EVACUATE THE
SCHOOL! EVACUATE THE SCHOOL!”
This got the whole class freaked out and
everyone ran out of the room, because, frankly,
nobody is really sure what Isabella is capable of.
Other teachers, hearing Pinsetti’s shrill feminine
screams, assumed it was coming from the mouth of
a woman (like a teacher) and did the safe thing —
they marched the kids out of the school. They
kind of have to do this, because I think their pay
depends on how many kids are alive at the end of
each school year.
Angeline and I know that Isabella’s dad
doesn’t work in a lab, and we’ve seen Isabella
dribble foam from her mouth before. So when the
ambulance guys and police officers came in about
forty -five minutes later, they found me and Angeline
and Isabella in the classroom playing cards.
By that time, Isabella had wiped the saliva
froth off her chin, but they still didn’t believe her
when she tried to convince them that I was Isabella.
She’s a masterful liar, but Isabella is not unknown
to the police.
Then she explained what happened. She
told the police that the teacher gave us a disease
assignment. It was supposed to have visual aids,
and we were supposed to dramatically
communicate just how our disease works.
Isabella said she tried to talk our teacher out of it,
since she feared this exact thing might happen —
Isabella is just so naturally good at convincing
people of things like diseases. Isabella told them
that our substitute teacher was stubborn and
insisted we do it this way, and that she also said a
lot of suspicious things that struck Isabella as being
Angeline and I nodded in agreement as Isabella
talked. Not agreement to the anti-cop part, or even
the tried -to -talk -her-out- of -it part. Also not the
visual aids or dramatically communicating part. We
were nodding in agreement that Mrs. Palmer, the
science teacher, had given us an assignment.
Of course, by that time they had evacuated
the school as a precaution, and sent everyone
home. That would have been great except for one
thing: If your school loses too many days during
the year, like for weather, or power outages, or fake
neurapraxia- C outbreaks, you have to make it up at
the end of the year. Isabella put us one day over the
line. So even though the last day of school
was supposed to be Friday, now it’s tomorrow.
(Oh, by the way, this is neat. I saw that
substitute last week. She mows lawns for a living
now. And she looks a lot happier than she did
back when she was a sub and was running out of
Dear Dumb Diary,
It’s finally the last day of school! I
always think that nobody in the whole world could
be any happier than I am about it, but then I see
grins on the faces of teachers that I didn’t think
even had grin muscles.
I used to wonder why teachers were the only
adults that got three- month vacations, but now
I know it’s because they’re the only adults that
deserve them. They probably don’t do cool things
like hang out at the beach, though. I think they
spend the full three months in an insane asylum to
prepare for the next year. That’s why you never see
teachers looking all teachery at amusement parks
or the beach or anything. They’re locked up
somewhere, taking special tests with number
We had a little end- of-the- year party today.
It was one of those healthy - type parties, so they
served beautiful and delicious fruits and vegetables
for us to reject.
We also had to clean out our lockers. I don’t
know exactly how much a locker is supposed to
hold, but I know this — it can hold even more
I had clothes in there that are no longer in
fashion, a bottle of Platinum Aqua glitter — please,
nobody at my level uses that color anymore — and
then I found a peach. I remembered exactly where it
Many, many diaries ago, there was an
incident involving a peach rolling out of my lunch
bag. Mike Pinsetti attemped to nickname me
“Peach Girl“ as a result. I have no idea why he
thought that was a clever nickname, but nicknames
can be pretty horrible unless you invent them for
yourself, like I’m pretty sure Captain Excellent
might have done — although he insists he didn’t.
At the time, I just grabbed the peach and
stuck it back in my lunch bag. It sat in its brown,
papery tomb until today, when I pulled it out.
Note to self: NEVER determine the
contents of an old lunch bag by sticking your
nose into it and sniffing. Here’s why: Right after I
did, Hudson walked past and I wanted to say, “Hey,
Hudson, big plans for the summer?” But what I
actually said was, “Hey, Hudtin, bib pan por duh
tummah?” Then I had to stand there listening to his
reply with my nostrils full of the fruit
flies I had inhaled a few moments
earlier. I was faced with this horrible choice:
BLOW BUGS OUT OF MY NOSE in front of the
eighth - cutest boy in my grade, or snurf them up so
deep in my sinuses that they could never, ever escape.
Isabella, being my best friend in the world,
decided to cover for me and/or rob me by quickly
swooping in and grabbing the bag out of my hand.
She caused enough of a distraction for me to
secretly blow my nose on a social studies report I
had spent two weeks writing. (Sorry, People of
Isabella pulled out the peach and held it up
in her hand: a stinky, gray, withered little sphere
with dents and creases and patches of fuzz here
“I love this,” she said in a passionate whisper.
“Can I have it?”
“Yeds, fide,” I said, still a bit congested from
my infestation. “Tage it. Ids all yours. You dode hab
to share it wid eddybody.”
Isabella waggled the peachish thing in
Hudson’s face. “All mine,” she said.
the end of the year —no more homework, no more
school lunches, no more boredom.
Here are just some of the things I’m going
to do this summer.
Dear Dumb Diary,
Okay, I couldn’t sleep in today. I tried, but
I think school programmed me to wake up at a
certain time because I’ve been doing it all year.
Tomorrow I’ll sleep in, you’ll see. I’ll sleep in until
noon or 1:00 p.m. Maybe I won’t even get out of bed
all day. It will be like I’m this girl who just luxuriates
in bed all day because she is fabulously wealthy or
horribly ill. It will be great.
I had planned to become a vegetarian this
summer, but Dad made bacon this morning, so I
decided to become a vegetarian by lunchtime. That
also didn’t work out, because Mom and I got
hamburgers at the drive-thru.
I think a lot of people, like me, love animals
in both ways —with all of our hearts, and with all of
our teeth as well. It’s just so difficult not to eat
their adorable little delicious bodies.
I’ll bet I could run a very successful farm by
just raising mean, cranky animals that nobody
would mind eating. It would be like: “Would you like
to try the T-bone steak tonight? He trampled four
children one day.” “Oh yes, that sounds delicious.
And for an appetizer, I wonder if you have any
chicken wings from birds that tried to peck
somebody in the face?”
At dinner tonight, I talked a little about
my summer plans. Mom and Dad made their
“expensive” face at every one of my ideas. I
don’t know how they do it, but they have a way of
tilting their heads and twisting their eyebrows as if
to say, “That Costs Too Much,” without ever
actually opening their mouths. It’s like living with a